Sierra snowpack well above average after California storms
AP: "Back-to-back California storms blanket the Sierra Nevada in snow, more than twice the snowpack level compared to this time last year, with winter still nearly two weeks away."
"At the same time last year, the Sierra snowpack was 47 percent of average, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday."
"A series of systems starting around Thanksgiving dropped several feet (meters) of fresh powder in some mountain areas."
California’s outdated election scoreboard fuels baseless suspicion as vote count ends
From the LAT's MICHAEL FINNEGAN and RYAN MENEZES: "The morning after the Nov. 6 congressional midterm election in California, state, county and media websites reported that 100% of precincts had turned in their results."
"It was highly misleading: The final tally, released Friday, showed that a staggering 5.2 million of the 12.1 million ballots cast — 43% — remained uncounted that morning. Most of the outstanding votes were from mail ballots."
"The website charts listing results from “100 percent” of the precincts feed public mistrust in the counting despite California’s stringent protections of ballot integrity, said Mindy Romero, the director of USC’s California Civic Engagement Project, a nonpartisan research center in Sacramento."
Some state Dems want to spend from surplus -- Ting, Newsom more cautious
The Chronicle's MATIER & ROSS: "Being flush with a nearly $15 billion budget surplus had some Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento already proposing tens of billions of dollars in new social and educational programs during the opening week of the new legislative session."
"Proposals submitted by lawmakers in the first week ranged from more funding for schools to extending Medi-Cal eligibility to adults living in the country illegally."
"But just as fast as the spending is being proposed, key lawmakers are tapping the brakes."
Why 150,000 doctors. others wrote to oppose Trump's proposed change in immigration rule
Sacramento Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "More than 150,000 doctors, health care organizations and others have flooded the Federal Register with comments condemning a Trump administration plan that would make it harder for immigrants to maintain their legal residency status if they seek federal assistance for food, health care or housing."
"Just the thought of this policy coming up was shocking to me,” said Dr. Lena Rothstein, a Sacramento pediatrician who first heard of the proposed policy at a national conference. “I didn’t think it would ever actually make it to fruition. Looking at immigrant families, I see parents in fear of enrolling in vital programs like Cal Fresh or food stamps or housing benefits or Medi-Cal. And, if the parents are affected, then downstream, the child is affected. So, it’s a pediatric issue."
"Rothstein submitted a letter opposing the proposed rule change, and she also wrote an op-ed column for the Davis Enterprise explaining how the policy changes will affect the health of one of the families in her care."
COMMENTARY: Hunger and the 'public charge' rule
ROB BONTA/ GABRIELLE TILLEYU in Capitol Weekly: "Blanca was seven months pregnant when her husband’s sciatica rendered him unable to work. The pain in his back was so intense he couldn’t stand upright. They had no medicalinsurance and could not qualify for unemployment or disability. For months they survived off savings until there was nothing left. Their food budget dwindled to $2, “maybe $3, or sometimes nothing at all,” Blanca said. This is when she decided to apply for CalFresh."
"I no longer wanted to give my daughter $1 juice diluted with water,” Blanca remembers."
"CalFresh made a huge difference for Blanca’s family. “Our mood improved enormously since we had food on the table,” she said, “CalFresh kept my family afloat and stable during those difficult times.”
Dog that survived California wildfire guarded home for weeks
AP's DAISY NGUYEN: "A dog that survived the catastrophic wildfire in Northern California apparently protected the ruins of his home for almost a month until his owner returned."
"Madison was there waiting when Andrea Gaylord was allowed back to check on her burned property in Paradise this week."
"Gaylord fled when the Nov. 8 fire broke out and decimated the town of 27,000. An animal rescuer who responded to Gaylord’s request to check on Madison first spotted the male Anatolian shepherd mix several days later."
READ MORE related to Camp Fire Calamity: Butte County moves to stop rogue animal rescue efforts as evacuees return and shelters shut -- Sacramento Bee's MICHAEL MCGOUGH
Kaiser mental health workers to strike for five days
The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN: "Thousands of mental health workers for Kaiser Permanente are expected to start a five-day statewide strike Monday to protest what they consider chronic understaffing leading to lengthy waits for treatment."
"About 4,000 clinicians — psychologists, therapists, social workers, psychiatric nurses and addiction medicine specialists — represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers are scheduled to strike Monday through Friday. They’ll set up picket lines outside dozens of Kaiser facilities around the state, including busy Bay Area locations in San Francisco and Oakland."
"Kaiser officials said in a statement that their facilities will remain open and that they have plans in place to ensure members will receive needed care, though some nonurgent appointments may be postponed."
US legal action against Huawei executive could backfire in unexpected ways
LA Times's ROBYN DIXON: "The arrest in Canada this month of a member of China’s corporate elite may shake Sino-U.S. relations for years, but may also push China to take steps to quicken its rise as a global tech leader."
"The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, vice chairwoman of Chinese smartphone giant Huawei, on U.S. fraud charges is seen in Beijing as an attack on China designed to block its technological advance. But an unintended result could be to bolster China’s global rise by pushing the country to increase subsidies and protection of its tech companies, according to analysts. That would be the polar opposite of what the Trump administration is demanding in its trade war with China."
Everybody loves everybody: Stevante Clark wants you to know the difference between pain and mental illness.
Sacramento Bee's MOLLY SULLIVAN: "Stevante Clark sat alone in church on a recent Wednesday night, wearing a tie and his signature head wrap."
"Calm and engaged, he swayed while the choir sang gospel songs at the Calvary Christian Center in north Sacramento. He took notes during the preacher’s sermon. He used his phone to follow along with Bible verses."
"It was a striking reversal from his behavior earlier in the year."
Oakland may require landlords to retrofit seismically unsafe apartments
The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROV: "Oakland may soon require hundreds of old apartments to be seismically retrofitted in an effort to prevent a mass collapse of buildings in the next big earthquake."
"The retrofit rules would apply to soft-story residential buildings: multi-unit, wood-frame structures with weak first stories built before 1991. An apartment with garage parking in the ground floor or street-level retail could fall into the targeted category."
"Such buildings are prone to collapse during earthquakes, when the combined weight of shaken upper levels becomes too much for the vulnerable first story, as Loma Prieta proved in 1989 and Northridge in 1994."
Housing in the Central Valley is changing. But not necessarily for the better.
Sacramento Bee's MICHAEL FINCH II: "The Central Valley is slowly becoming a society of renters."
"New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that many counties have seen double-digit growth in renter-occupied households and only modest gains in homeownership — if not single-digit declines since 2011."
"In the period between 2011 and 2017, the number of owner-occupied homes in the valley fell by three-tenths of a percentage point, whereas renter-occupied households grew to 103,000, an 11 percent increase, data shows."
AI and other smart innovations at California and Wstrern ski resorts
LA Times's IRWIN CURTIN: "Technology continues its inexorable march into the mountains of North America this winter."
"Vail Resorts, corporate parent of California’s Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, is debuting Emma, a digital assistant that can answer ski-related queries in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
"Her expertise includes snow conditions, lift-line wait times and parking, and finding late-night cocktails, family-friendly meals or even a fashionable ski jacket."
Top House Dems raise prospect of impeachment, jail for Trump
AP's HOPE YEN: "Top House Democrats on Sunday raised the prospect of impeachment or almost-certain prison time for President Donald Trump if it's proved that he directed illegal hush-money payments to women, adding to the legal pressure on the president over the Russia investigation and other scandals."
"There's a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time," said Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House intelligence committee. "The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump."
"Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described the details in prosecutors' filings Friday in the case of Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as evidence that Trump was "at the center of a massive fraud."